White Album 2 Omake/Story01/Chapter 1
 Chapter 1: "Spring"
She was watching a dream.
It was such a bad dream where undesirable memories swirled in her mind like a revolving lantern.
"Touma... hey... sorry to bug you, but wake up for a bit."
And being abruptly awoken like that was also the worst. It irritated Kazusa to the point of being angered at the person, despite the fact she should be grateful.
Opening her eyes, Kazusa glared at the male student in uniform that stood before her.
... at the very least, she could tell he had a stiff expression.
Slowly, the information pouring into her mind one by one; that she was looking at a dream from two years ago, that she was now in her third year, that it was the sixth period... no, judging from the noise around her, it was finally after school.
Though it all hit her, there happened to be a male student fixated in front of her. Since it was a pain to lift her head up at him, she once again laid down on her desk...
"Ahh!? Sorry, really! You're Touma Kazusa, right?"
Once woken again, her temper started to turn sour.
Kazusa finally gave the male student a look. Because of the fact she was half-awake from her dream, she didn't really feel all that great.
"You haven't attended school since the graduation ceremony, yeah? Are you doing all right?"
To be honest... she didn't have any kind of first impression of him.
His height, his stature, his hair, and his figure weren't anything noteworthy.
"I'm asking because the deadline's rather close for the application forms for your school textbooks and student card."
If there was anything to point out about him, it was that the top button on his shirt was undone.
"I do realize that classes aren't really progressing while you've been sleeping, but you're going to miss out on a lot of details..."
Hiding her eyes as if she were scowling for the first time, she noticed he was watching his attitude and words rather carefully.
It was just that, because he'd been making eye contact with her, Kazusa felt uncomfortable as she'd never make eye contact with anyone else.
"Oh and also... the student discount form's here, just in case. You go by train from Iwazuchou, right?"
Not taking his eyes off her, he piled up a bunch of books and papers on top of her desk.
"And, this is the one thing you shouldn't forget; the parent-teacher meeting printout. It's starting right next week, so be sure to pass this to your parent."
"I was hoping to bring this directly to your house, but I had a lot of things come up... sorry about that."
These words really got on her nerves, coming from someone who knew nothing about her circumstances.
Her temper soured even further, especially knowing that he didn't mean any harm in saying them.
That apology of his nagged her so much it was irritating.
In other words, nothing in front of her had her interest one bit.
"Do you have any questions about anything I've said? I'll try to answer what I can, though."
Though the way he spoke just continued to make things more annoying for her, Kazusa merely shook her head.
She did so since it was a bother to do all this studying stuff for the past two years, compared to the hate she had for everything that annoyed her since enrolling.
"I see, that's good. Then..."
"... I'll next explain how to fill out these forms. First, we'll start with the form for buying the school jersey."
Even so, since the boy in front of her had the nerve to come, Kazusa no longer felt the will to compromise with the words, "I have no questions".
"... what's wrong?"
- He really was annoying.
- I even went through the trouble of not pushing this negativity onto other people.
- And I even went with the idea of "arguing with people is a pain" to avoid getting into situations with others.
"Many tell me that, but this is important. If I'm annoying you, I'm sure remembering all this will help."
- Even so... even so...
- Who the hell does he think he is? This guy in front of me sure is rude and oppressive. He can't even tell when to shut up.
"Ah... that's right. This is the first time we've met. I'm Kitahara Haruki, the first term representative for class E."
"I didn't ask for your name."
"Well, your face seemed to ask, "Just who are you?", see."
- I don't know his name either. Or rather, even if I did hear it now, I don't feel like remembering it...
"... maybe you really aren't feeling well after all? Do you want to go to the nurse's office? I'll take you there."
"... don't come near me."
"Hm? I haven't touched you anywhere yet."
- Is he so conceited to think that a mere pebble on the roadside such as himself could become an obstacle in my life? Despite not having the size, weight, or sharpness to roll about in my path?
It had been quite a while since Kazusa had gotten so riled up...
"... all right, never mind. Oh, of course! If you'd like, I could walk you home after school..." "Don't come near me!"
Her voice erupted in an instant.
Kazusa left through the school gates on her own, as the sunlight of spring slowly began to hide the cold of winter from not too long ago. The beauty from her tight lips, narrowed eyes, and the bridge of her nose projected an anger that she hadn't had in so long.
Though the reason why this beautiful yet frightening expression of hers was over something so childish, the passer-byes had no reason to pry into it.
"This is all his fault..."
Everyone, including the male student, were left with their mouths open the moment Kazusa slammed the classroom door open. They all watched her as she abruptly left in such a violent way.
The students in the music classrooms had seen this sort of episode up until last year, and this year it had also happened without any real motive. As such, she hadn't any idea why she switched to a regular curriculum in the first place.
It was a new class where no one knew her and she knew no one. This time, Kazusa was pondering whether to graduate in such tedious, boring days, and even though she restrained herself to a great extent, the result still ended up the same.
That's why Kazusa despaired as always.
Probably because nothing would change in the end.
Probably because in this closed world called the School of Houjou University, there wasn't a single person who would understand her, approve of her, or let her be.
... even though such excuses created friction between her and those around her, since no one was close to Kazusa in the first place, they just treated this like some sort of annual ritual without any kind of ruckus.
It had already been two years since the enrollment ceremony where she looked up at the skies...
As always, Touma Kazusa hated them.
She hated the skies in such a spring season, where the thin, white clouds spread apart.
She hated the teachers, the students, and pretty much the world around her. At the time, she had a reason to hate just about everything she saw. That's why to Touma Kazusa... she hated the all too friendly male student she met today.
There are three music rooms in the School of Houjou University.
The first music room in the main school building is used by the music students during lessons and by music clubs after school.
The third music room in the new school building is used exclusively by the music department staff throughout the day, and placed in a location that isolates it from the other students.
And then there's the second music room.
It's right beside the first music room, and was once used exclusively by the music department staff. Right now, not even classes or clubs use the room even though it's been turned into a classroom.
Normally, students in music clubs would use the room once they closed down for the day, but there was a reason, and it didn't involve any kind of dissatisfaction from the students or the teachers.
And it wasn't anything like some urban legend, one of the seven wonders, or some school ghost story at all. It was merely a bunch of things people concluded upon that ended up with this result.
The regular students were under the impression the room was being used by the music students.
The music students no longer needed that music room.
And the teachers... evade the topic when asked.
The piano echoed with brilliance in that music room, even today.
It's been a week since the opening ceremonies for this school term. Despite becoming a third year and changing education paths, in the end, Kazusa remained the sole owner of the room... as the "Second Music Room Owner", which has never been used during classes or after school.
Someone began playing the guitar solo for the song, "Highway Star" within the echoes of the piano.
Kazusa was first brought here in the spring two years ago.
This was the same day she chased away the homeroom teacher that led her here, she occupied the room, definitively bearing the name, "Problem child that hides behind the donation of a famous parent".
Since then, no one has ever set foot within the room. The grand piano, donated by her mother, was made from a European company worth more than three million yen. And yet, it ended up being used by only Kazusa.
She never returned the key back to the staff room, only coming and leaving whenever she felt like it, playing any musical instrument inside as she pleased.
The guitar began playing "Crazy Train".
Since the competition two years ago, Kazusa never went on stage. Besides, ever since that day, Kazusa stopped playing the piano for leisure.
That's why today's practice was not for fun, but merely a habit. She didn't improve her technique, nor did she notice missing any keys, nor did she lament over her technique worsening, she just kept playing on and on without thinking.
She just played wholeheartedly without any ill will, without any pain, and without any sadness from that day, as if to erase it all. At the same time, she erased the fun and happy memories she had, but she hadn't any need to worry about it.
Because she didn't have any fun or happy memories at all recently...
The guitar began playing "WHITE ALBUM"...
"Ahh~, damn it!"
However, on that day, without thinking, Kazusa slammed on the piano so as to give up.
Of course, it wasn't because she despaired over her skill in playing the piano...
"This sound is garbage!"
The guitar being played was so off-key and inexperienced, she couldn't forgive it at all.
She'd been hearing it for the past several days. After the practice from the wind instruments and choruses in the first room ended, it seemed like there was someone practicing on their own personal time. But becuase the guitar solo was so off-key, it ruined Kazusa's flow with the piano.
To be honest, it was the worst.
It was probably some new student that was intent on entering the university band. But for whatever reason it was, Kazusa wanted to forgive the student to the greatest extent she could.
Thanks to that, her own performance was ruined, and having lost the feeling in her fingertips, Kazusa lost interest in continuing to perform.
"I'm going home..."
As expected, the guitar continued to play "WHITE ALBUM" with mistakes. Kazusa finally decided to close her ears with both her hands, and dash as far away as possible, so as not to hear the noise.
Her brain was dead tired on the way home, so she decided to bring it back to health with large quantities of sugar...
Touma Kazusa loved nameraka pudding.
Or rather, she loved every bit of flavor in the pudding.
Maybe she got it from her mother who loved sweet things to death, or maybe because her mother fed her such things resulting in this. Kazusa continued to fight this dental battle of hers on a grand scale ever since she was a child up until now.
Well, a little bit changed.
... she recently became a little more indulged in sweet things.
She wasn't good with spicy food at all ever since she was a kid, and the same held true for bitter, sour, and hot foods. Cold food was exempt from this recently, but in terms of meal choices, this left very little to select from.
She'd take ice cream, cake, pudding, lemon tea, milk tea, fruit juice and carbonated drinks...
She would take coffee, but she'd have to put in large amounts of cream and sugar. Otherwise she wouldn't be able to bear the bitter flavor piercing through her throat.
None of this has changed at present.
But if some counselor or psychiatrist happened to examine her, they'd probably notice this all had a dramatic effect in the dark depths of her heart.
Kazusa herself doesn't even know her brain has been telling her these things.
That she shouldn't agitate her esteemed sense of taste.
That she shouldn't torment the tip of her esteemed tongue.
"One more, please."
"......... v, very well."
Though unrelated, Kazusa was eating two of the nameraka puddings, and had decided on a third.
There's nothing to care much for in the variety, ingredients, or price of pudding, but this place... the Minamisuetsugu Goodies Restaurant was particularly recommended for its nameraka pudding.
Kazusa couldn't stop the smile on her face nor the spoon in her hands. Besides, the nameraka pudding in this store was so good, there was really no point going to any other place.
She was determined to not show anyone from the school this faint, blissful expression of hers as she took her last spoon, when...
"I'm telling you, don't think about it too much. Everyone's just going there to have fun!"
She heard a voice from just behind she recently became familiar with.
"Is that how you play this off now? You've been inviting girls like this second year, Iizuka-kun!"
"Well... but you were going out with Takada weren't you, Yui-chan?"
"... you sure know your stuff."
"Because you've always eyed him, see. I was a bit shocked when I heard you got a boyfriend."
And familiar words that set her teeth on edge.
"I see, and then recently I got some new info... that you two broke up."
"... you're quite a pain."
Turning around so as to not be noticed, Kazusa found a couple dressed in Houjou uniforms having a chat.
Though she only got half the details right, she did recognize the guy.
"What, thought you could make your move now? That you could get something going on?" "Get something on? I'm all for that!" "And if I said my standards weren't so low?" "Even got those words going! I'm all for that!" "You sure are good, aren't you, Iizuka-kun. I heard plenty of things from Sawa-chan about you." "Want to see if what she's said is true?"
The thin figure, light brown hair, and soft voice made Kazusa recall some not so great memories from the day before. At the time when she was heading home thruogh the school gates, there was a guy that was annoying her.
- "You're Touma-san from class E, right?"
- "I'm Iizuka Takeya from class G. You know me, yes?"
- "How about Haruki... Kitahara Haruki? You know, the guy sitting next to you."
- "I'm his friend, see. He told me a bit about you."
- "Just well, see. Thought I'd talk to you, get to know you a bit better."
- "Man, I was so surprised! Who knew that someone with such finesse would be in our year... made the blunder of your life or something?"
- "Where you heading off to? If you got time, we can go for some tea or something!"
- "Ah~, don't think too hard about it or anything. I just wanna talk!"
- "... you're the strong, silent type, aren't you?"
- "You were in the music curriculum until last year, right? Kinda rare for someone to switch to the regular curriculum."
- "Oh that's right, you're Touma Youko's..."
And he'd go on and on like that with her, but soon that loose tongue of his would fade.
... after tasting Kazusa's wide kick.
"Hm... let's see~, If it's not just the two of us, then I'm fine with that."
"Oh, I'm all for that too! I'm cool with a group!"
"Then, what do you wanna do? Wanna go somewhere on Golden Week?"
Still, today's catch of his appears to be a lot better than what happened the other day.
He took a seat facing Kazusa――it wasn't what she was quite expecting. Though she thought it strange, they were actually two seats away――as the two chatted away, it seemed like they were starting to enjoy it.
In other words, he got a hit.
"Then how about the third day? 10 AM in front of the Minamisuetsugu ticket gate?"
"Then go ahead and invite someone. I'll give a call after you're done."
"Okay, let's exchange numbers."
Kazusa was becoming uncomfortable and growing a foul mood as the two chatted the day away. She moved to switch seats without being noticed when...
"Ehh~, Kitahara-kun? Well, you see..."
A familiar name stopped her in her tracks.
"Well, Kitahara-kun's... that Mr. Class Representative, right?"
Continuing from yesterday, she once again hears this name.
The first male student to talk to her in class.
A rather annoying student who can't take a hint.
A particular classmate who would stubbornly go on, who should've left her alone in class.
Who's a friend of this useless guy.
This guy, who's a complete sellout.
This blasphemy who would go through the trouble of looking up the fact she was Touma Youko's daughter.
And she could tell right away from being close to him that he was just the worst.
And just like that, Kazusa's anger directed itself more towards the name "Kitahara Haruki" far more than the guy in front of her.
Towards the person where her first impression came up with, "It's all his fault"...
"But you know, inviting him is kinda pitiful."
"Why? Something wrong with that?"
"... you know, right?"
- ――I know all too well.
"He doesn't look all that bad, does he? It's okay, I'll fix him up with some clothes or something."
"Uh, it's not that he looks bad or anything. But he's not gonna annoy us, is he?"
- ――He is annoying. Very annoying.
"See, a while back he suddenly came and was checking the address books and stuff."
- ――He'd be one to do that sort of thing.
"Wasn't he absent from school that day? Or maybe he forgot something."
"Well, he was. He said the day before he was going to the live concert as far as the stage."
"That's quite some concern you have."
"Still though, doesn't he have any manners?"
- ――That's right, he just barges in like it's his own business.
"He went in? Or he went for some tea?"
"He went home right away... but still."
- ――But, still.
- The only thing I have is hatred for him...
"......... sorry, something came up, gotta go."
The words in her heart happened to spill out by accident.
Because that loose tongue of his suddenly became rather reserved.
"This is my share. I had fun today, later."
"W, wait a second, Iizuka-kun!"
The girl moved to try and stop him, perhaps because she felt the same way.
"We still haven't figured out where we're going yet! Who are you gonna be inviting?"
"Ah~, I was talking about that, wasn't I...?"
"What do you mean by that...?"
"Sorry, something really came up. Maybe next time."
However, he didn't have any interest in listening to her words any longer.
"... what're you angry about?"
"Just letting you know."
"It's only been two weeks since you two ended up in the same class, right? You shouldn't be talking about Haruki like that."
"W... what are you talking about?"
- Really, what is he talking about?
- It's not strange for someone to check a student that's gone absent even though it's been two weeks since they ended up in the same class, right?
"You should know him for at least half a year. Later."
"Wait a second, you're all strange all of a sudden, Iizuka-kun! Hey, come on, I said wait!"
- "Iizuka-kun" soon ran past Kazusa.
But even if she hid, he wouldn't have noticed her. He left with an expression that indicated his loss of interest in that girl.
Which was why Kazusa didn't take her eyes off him.
"... what the hell, are you an idiot?!"
Perhaps the words this girl spoke were the same words Kazusa spoke on that day.
She was curious because, this girl wasn't even speaking for her. And yet, the words coming from the girl were precisely the same.
Which was why Kazusa could understand; or rather, she felt the same way.
A fiery flame of humiliation that you couldn't put out with ice or water. And yet again, it was another feeling she carried towards this class representative named "Kitahara Haruki".
She was watching a dream.
A complicated dream that could neither be called the best or the worst. It was like an ant drowning in honey.
"Touma... hey... come on, wake up!"
Kazusa woke up wiping tears from her eyes, having been released from the ultimate decision of choosing between her life and sugar, and faced the person who brought her back to reality.
"Good morning. Rare to see you come to class early."
"You don't have to make your sigh all that obvious."
- I'm not sighing. I'm just gulping down air in a hurry because this "Kitahara Haruki" is talking to me.
- How many years has it been since I remembered someone's full name?
"Good morning! Good morning, Touma! The bell will ring soon, so please, wake up!"
She was half-bluffing with her sleeping when being talked to, or stretching herself as if she was being bothered and had no interest, but half of it all was a bluff.
Because she didn't want anyone else causing her grief or bothering her any longer.
... but, she really didn't want him to notice that she had taken just a slight interest in him.
"Look, I'm sorry for waking you up, but the career counseling form is due at lunch today."
"I'll be collecting them for the teacher. I figured you probably threw out the form, so here's a new one. Just put your name down in the right spot there."
- Bothering me with such obvious stuff. A kindness that ticks me off. Obviously very annoying.
When compared to her experience with the adults swarming over the Touma family's standing, fame, or assets, this was quite similar.
"I won't look at what it is you're writing. It'll go straight in the envelope, and I won't look inside at all. So, well, please finish it before lunch."
Even so, despite Kazusa knowing that he didn't really have anything to gain from this, it still made her uncomfortable.
"Come on, don't roll it up. Just write something."
"I'm not interested in this."
Which was why she took on a defiant attitude.
Not like the light attitude he took with him a month ago that let him do anything, but a completely defiant one.
"It doesn't matter if you're going to university or finding work or you haven't decided. Just put whatever it is you're thinking about."
"Besides, if you're so interested in bothering me, why don't you go collect everyone else's forms..."
"I picked everyone else's forms up yesterday. Only yours remains."
"... there were about three people absent yesterday weren't there?"
"I gave them a phone call and picked them up. They filled them up, even though they caught a cold."
"... are you stupid?"
As always, what he was doing was so depressing, it was dizzying.
And yet, the one hard rule in this school is to mysteriously have feelings for this one carefree guy.
Even now, Kazusa didn't understand the contradiction of such opposing personalities. It was like friends who had nothing in common whatsoever.
"That's cruel. Everyone in class got this form done."
"Who said that...?"
Because she didn't understand it, she hesitated in her hate for him.
Her anxiety wouldn't go away, because she thought she might have gotten the wrong idea.
"Besides, the school is affiliated with a university, so you can write down "Enrolling in Houjou University". They would care more if you left it empty."
"I'm definitely not going."
Retorting, she didn't look up at him immediately, only giving him a peek.
"So you don't want to lie? ... you're more sincere than I thought."
"... don't come up with some conclusion of yours. It's depressing."
- ――If I look at him carefully, he really is average. Just average.
- It's not like he's a sore sight, but he isn't anything charming either.
- ... there isn't a single guy around here that has even 1% of that.
"If you don't like that, then going with the flow will work better for you."
"What's that mean?"
- ――But, perhaps he's just a little above average.
- Maybe by about two or three steps.
"Look, going with the idea of, "A delinquent that feeds a cat" isn't going to get you much recognition, but going with the flow would, right?"
"I'm not trying to be recognized by anyone."
- ――Not like I'm charmed by him or anything, it's just not annoying to watch him so close by.
- If this goes on, I'm sure...
"I don't recommend filling out the form during class. If you can, try to get it done before the first bell..."
- ――Okay, look, to begin with, it might be a really bad idea to study him in the first place.
- A guy in my year... well, doesn't matter what year they're from, I don't have any kind of interest.
- Even if he were my father or something.
- To find any value in other people who don't have any interest in me...
- But, if that's the case then what should I do?
- Should I judge the good and bad in him?
- And what kind of effect would that have on me...?
"Well, all your choices are down below, so you can ponder on it a little longer, okay?"
Coming back to her senses, Kazusa started moving her pencil across the page.
"Ah... good, good!"
What she was thinking and doing caused an eerie chill down her spine. Because what she was doing was rather typical of a girl, staring at the guy in front of him, and thinking of nothing else.
"Something on the form you're not sure of?"
"I'll listen to what it is you're saying, but at least listen to one thing from me."
"Ahh, of course! If there's anything bothering you, I'm sure I can help..."
"From now on, don't worry if I'm ignoring you or anything. You'll just feel really depressed after."
"I......... I see."
- ――This is so stupid. For me to have an interest in someone else,
is so very, very stupid.
"Look, I'm done. Take it."
"Woah, don't throw it! Just flip it over..."
- ――It's nothing about him getting along with others.
- There's no meaning in the fascination with him.
- It's about how the world he lives in doesn't affect him one bit.
"I don't really care if you look at it. I just wrote, "Enrolling in Houjou University", like you said."
"... you're going to?"
"... I see."
- ――This'll get worse if I don't end it here.
- Besides, he's far too friendly for his own good.
- There's no telling how far he'll go if I'm just even a little kind to him.
"You done with this? I'm going to sleep now."
"Ah, sorry. One last thing."
"I get it... from now on, I won't mind if you ignore me or anything."
It should have ended.
The moment his words ended, Kazusa was left with a slightly uncomfortable expression...
"So, please don't mind me if I keep rambling on."
It should have ended.
The moment his words continued, Kazusa was left with an even more uncomfortable expression.
"Good morning, Touma. Today's great weather, isn't it?"
"Just wait a second, Kitahara. That's not what I meant..."
"I'll listen to whatever it is you say, so at least listen to one thing from me."
"That isn't even one thing! You sure have a lot of balls!"
"Touma... what are you saying now?"
Kazusa cursed herself.
She cursed her foolishness for being even a little kind to such a depressing, overly friendly guy.
And over the course of a month, Kazusa slowly came to know some things. That there was a division of two groups of people; those who avoided Kitahara Haruki, and those who relied on him.
For someone like Kazusa who only switched to the regular curriculum this year, it was quite difficult to get a grasp of this. However, it was the conclusion she arrived at after investigating just the school registry. It had nothing to do with gender, grades, or personality. It had to do with the composition of the classes in first and second year.
In other words, there was a difference in attitude between those who were in a class with him for at least a year in either first or second years, and those who weren't.
Those in the latter group were quite distant with him, thought his meddling was rather annoying, and were quite negative with his lecturing. Even so, they became more and more annoyed with him. And the former group just gave up from the start, and completely believed in him.
Proof of this might have come from trouble that happened between Kitahara and a guy sitting in front of her, named "Hayasaka".
The class had recommended Hayasaka as part of the athletic festival action committee, but he skipped out on important meetings and neglected preparations. With only a week before the festival, it was turning out that the class hadn't had any members selected or ready for any of the games.
And within that chaos, Kitahara took matters into his own hands perfectly, without any fuss or panic.
Well, the stuff he did here was far greater than what happened with Kazusa over the past month...
Kitahara took over all of Hayasaka's meetings, organized all the programmes, had the members for each of the games selected, and had roll calls run within the class.
Although he had done this all rather diligently, he broke his silence after homeroom with Hayasaka and lectured him.
In spite of the situation Hayasaka put himself in, he was rather hostile to Kitahara, and the situation became intense.
However, Kitahara didn't falter, and tried his best to get Hayasaka to recognize his failings at the athletic festival.
Hayasaka still became more hostile, but he wasn't able to raise even a finger...
And then the situation turned in Kitahara's favor... former classmates of his "that had experienced this" came in.
They already knew from the beginning when they first stuck with Kitahara. And they just "knew" who he was.
That's why there wasn't any chaos at that incident, instead asking Hayasaka to be tolerant... or rather, they gave him some suggestions which ended the whole thing.
Stuff like "Just getting angry is useless", "You'll lose hairs if you take everything he says seriously", or "He got the short end of the stick, so just accept it", though some of the suggestions didn't really stick together all too well.
And then afterwards, a week later when the athletic festival began... On that day, Kazusa learned another thing.
Skipping all of the events, she killed time in the second music room, watching from the window into the evening view of the campus... Third year students were carrying drinks onto the grounds after the festival had ended.
And within that group were the students from class E all having a blast.
And right in the middle of that was Hayasaka drinking from a wine cup (probably tea) alongside the figure of Kitahara drinking (probably tea).
Kitahara's attitude hadn't changed even now, although it seems like something else happened or Kitahara had lectured him. Either way, within the past week it seems that Hayasaka finally understood something, taking it all in stride and laughing it off.
- "You should know him for at least half a year."
Kazusa didn't want to remember the words that useless guy spoke.
The class atmosphere had completely "changed" the following week.
The tense mood that used to be there had completely disappeared. Instead, everyone was cheerful, relying on Kitahara. And no matter what kind of trivial matter that showed up, he'd lecture them, and they'd smile back.
If that was all it was, then perhaps you could say he's degraded into the class' utility guy. But the atmosphere was much brighter, and all the cynicism and bad mouthing ceased. No one teased him or rejected him either; it was all just swept out.
This was especially true for Hayasaka. At some point he started calling him "Haruki", and Kitahara started calling him '"Chikashi". Everyone approved of Kitahara Haruki as a "person needed by the class".
Well, no one really noticed this sort of optimistic feeling of "approval", it's just that everyone figured how to deal with the class representative who had been annoying for some time.
Kazusa was the only one who noticed this change in atmosphere.
Because she was the one people needed the least.
Because she was the only outsider that observed the atheltic festival and that incident.
And......... because she was the one girl who watched Kitahara Haruki the most.
Because for the time being, Kazusa didn't take her eyes off him.
During classes or recess, she'd take advantage of the class atmosphere and sleep on her desk, stealing a peek at him, picking up the whispers around him.
... what would her mother think if she found out her piano-playing daughter was using her amazing hearing skills for something like this?
At any rate, Kazusa came up with a list of things about Kitahara, which cut into her precious sleeping time...
- Kitahara Haruki gives everyone a very bad first impression.
- Everyone avoids getting on his bad side.
- Anyone who likes him in the first place are really eager idiots.
- There's been no oddball that's shown up who's like that, and no such person will ever appear.
- Even so, he'll completely turn around this first impression in the span of several days, and gain everyone's support.
- He acts in such a particular, cowardly way like the devil would to achieve this.
- He'll start some sort of incident within his own group of people.
- And then he'll resolve it somehow, reversing the fortunes of those involved.
- This is what they call getting recognition from the idea of, "A delinquent that feeds a cat".
- And the people who fall within this incident have their souls uplifted, and can't make any kind of clear judgment.
- Then he'll gain more supporters, and one day rule them all.
Kazusa had no intention of announcing the fruits of such a horrifying study, and she didn't feel like saving the others around him either. Besides, she only studied him because she was just killing time.
It may be a rather horrifying reality, but as long as she didn't fall victim to him, it wasn't her problem at all.
She planned on just continuing to sleep in school, and as long as she kept herself hidden, she wouldn't end up like the others, and those around him wouldn't go after her.
She was rather optimistic at this point...
"Good morning, Touma! Also, happy birthday!"
"It's today, right? May 21?"
"Happy birthday! Well, I'm in April, so as an older guy I can't really say much."
She decided to run away in haste, since being called like that on such a day would make her desperately want to scream in anger with something like, "W, w, where the hell did you figure that out, you damn stalker?!"
A few days afterward, Kitahara would also greet people on their birthdays. They took the same attitude that Kazusa figured they would, and she was glad from the bottom of her heart that she didn't suddenly speak in such a weird, overly self-conscious manner.
So relieved she'd almost send the classroom garbage can flying with a kick.
Standing out like that though, she couldn't ignore him no matter how much he spoke to her. Kazusa couldn't go on like she always did.
Soon though, the brainwashed may begin staring at her with half-hearted looks.
On the contrary though, they actually started whispering disgusting things like, "Let Kitahara-kun take care of Touma-san".
The girl who once scorned him as "Mr. Class Representative" spoke those words. And the moment the aloof Kazusa heard them, she felt the despair of being left behind, and couldn't sleep at night.
Just like that, the number of students talking to her decreased...
Just like that, the one particularly annoying student continued to talk to her even more.
Kitahara was backed by his believers, and feeling it was his obligation, he'd talk to Kazusa, bother her, worry about her, warn her, and cover her from many things like teachers or the school.
Kazusa started building up so much stress from his pride and appearance ripped her apart, almost making her scream, "Don't you care about me at all?!" She was cornered, almost as if she'd make this fatal outburst even one or two times.
- ――I'm at my limit.
- I should at least talk with that idiot.
- So that he won't bother me again. So that he won't talk to me again.
- So that he won't bewilder me again.
- If he still won't accept that, I'll have to resolve this through force.
- Because, I'm at my limit.
- Because I feel like everything in my mind's just gonna go right at him...
"Come on, Touma! How much burden are you going to place on Kitahara before you're satisfied?!"
But, there was something that she never expected, something where somebody from the Kitahara circle would butt in.
"Umm, Suwa-sensei... I thank you for your concern, but as her homeroom teacher, I'll take care of this."
It was on a day at the closing ceremonybeginning of summer. The final exams for the first term finished, and the students were all relieved.
Kazusa was called to the staff room dumbfounded, being named by someone she didn't expect at all.
"This is the result for treating her like this all the time! Touma's no longer a music or scholar student! She's a regular maggot now!"
"I, I see..."
Of course, she had an idea why she was called in the first place.
She failed in all her subjects in the final exams, and there was one person in her year who heard about it.
"Besides, wouldn't it be helpful to keep an eye on her?"
"... I don't care. No one asked for that sort of thing."
And of course, she knew the reason why it ended up like that.
She never paid attention to the preparation or review lessons. She'd be already sleeping classes, or pretending to be while looking outside the window near her, and like that she wouldn't be able to get any more than 30% on her exams.
"I'm hearing you apologized to Kitahara for being the only one late with that career counseling form from a while back. And you even lied saying that you got the deadline wrong?"
"I'm telling you, it was nothing like that... the class representative just says that sort of thing."
"Shifting the blame away to Kitahara? Considering he covers for everyone, you sure have balls."
But in that kind of way, it wasn't suspicious for Kazusa to blame having been distracted from her studies because of her observing Kitahara.
"And what kind of joke is this all wanting to go to Houjou University? You think anyone will recommend you over this sort of thing?"
"That was... because the class representative said it was fine."
"See, you're shifting the blame again!"
This Suwa guy was the guidance head, who last year became Kazusa's natural enemy...
"It's a bother for the rest of us when you're being the same as you were in the music curriculum! How long are you gonna carry that glory of yours from first year?!"
Ever since the music students pretty much abandoned her, she's always been fighting with this Suwa person.
The teachers who had never said anything about her until now happened to draw a particular line. No matter how direct they were with their words, they would take an imposing attitude and once again move back to the main point.
Though whether this was to support Kazusa or have her reflect on these words was again another story...
Kazusa's resentment for the horrible middle-aged teacher only grew with his jabs, his overbearing attitude, and his faultfinding point of view.
"And besides, you enrolled in this school because of your piano skills. You should never have given up and switched curriculums!"
"It doesn't matter if I go to university, does it? If you're not really interested in our money, then..."
"! Is that the attitude of a student?!"
- ――Is that the attitude of a priest?!
"S, Suwa-sensei... let's just leave it at this for today. Touma also seems like she'll reflect on this."
"Is this the attitude of someone who'll reflect on this?!"
- ――Who's reflecting on what?
- It's not like it was a good idea to tell him off. I also hated having to push Suwa's buttons like that.
"You don't have to tell me...!"
Ramming the door of the staff room open, Kazusa couldn't withhold her anger, and stormed out into the hallway.
She did have an elegance with her tall stature and slender legs that underclassmen would appreciate when she took such wide steps, but given her expression right now, there'd be no one who would feel that way.
- "Besides, I haven't heard of a single student who would use the music room on their own."
- ――It's not like you asked me. You just happened to show me the place.
- "What would your mother say if she saw you like this...?"
- ――It has nothing to do with her.
- "If it were me, I'd have to apologize to the teachers or my parents."
- ――I'm different from someone like you.
- "Maybe I'd do my best to keep up with studies like the others, or..."
- ――Yeah, you don't have to tell me.
- I don't want to be here anymore...
"Ah, ow, ow! Touma!" "...!"
- I had just gotten things to an atmosphere I really wanted, and yet this guy who doesn't look at people's faces, doesn't know when to keep quiet, and doesn't think about anything at all just waltzes in here.
Today was the closing ceremony, so I'm sure the students should have headed home...
"What'd they say? It looks like it took quite a long time..."
It didn't matter what they said, it was all harsh.
Even though the homeroom teacher had taken over matters, in the end he followed Suwa's advice and said things like, "Don't cause Kitahara any more trouble".
"Speaking of which Touma, did you really use any of my notes? I'm sure at least 80% of it should have been right."
Everyone in the staff room was an ally of the class representative in front of me.
Because he's the "pride of the regular students", just like when she used to be a "music honors student".
"You're going to take the supplementary exams, right?"
In the end, Kazusa couldn't be normal at all when coming to this curriculum.
From a special honors student to a particularly terrible student. The teachers, the classmates, the class representative...
There wasn't a single person that ignored her.
"Look, you can recover from the first term. Just take your time during the summer break. If you need me, I can..."
That's why Kazusa did what she always did.
She would bare her fangs at anyone.
When she shot such a cold look at him, his expression soon changed, and she looked ahead of him, like there was no one.
"A, ah... Tou, ma?"
Kitahara stood there, only able to see her walk off.
It seemed like this was the first time he had figured when to keep quiet for such an annoying guy.
That's why Kazusa believed this would be the end.
That probably he wouldn't talk to her anymore.
If one were violent with anyone who believed they were trying to help, then certainly they'd be like that...
"... you idiot..."
Even Kazusa didn't know whether the words she mumbled were pointed at him, or herself.
That day in the second music room, she started going on a rather harsh recital.
The loud echoes of the piano would reach beyond the open window and bounce off every crook and nanny. Those in club activities would stop many times, looking up at the window.
Even with the end of the closing ceremonies and entering the summer break, Kazusa was still the "Second Music Room Owner".
Though the guitar had failed to break through the piano's echoes, it was playing "Smoke on the Water".
Just like Suwa said, the second music room was a symbol of Kazusa's anger.
Just by playing the piano here, the revolt she had for people, the trouble people caused her, and the damage they inflicted on her would be here.
Even so, Kazusa couldn't leave any longer.
Because this was the only place in the school where she could be.
Her fingers couldn't keep up with the speed of her feelings.
She didn't pay attention to the strength at which she played the piano, as if her fingers were numb.
It's not that she got worse. It's just that today, she was putting in too much effort.
The guitar began playing "Back in Black".
The summer holidays begin tomorrow.
On such a particular milestone, Kazusa's wish of "I want to be alone" was finally granted.
Because she was able to rid herself of that one particularly dreary, talkative class representative.
She'd decided on not seeing him for even a month, and he wouldn't be able to mend their relationship at all. The two would remain distant.
Probably she'd be able to make it to graduation without anyone bothering her.
That's why she completely forgot all about today, only thinking about tomorrow.
Only thinking of the summer holidays she has all to herself.
- ――Maybe I should go on a trip.
- Go to some small place where no one would know me or call for me.
- Take a day at some hotel, and just be totally alone.
- Those kind of days that would never change...
And then she stopped playing the piano for some reason.
Thinking of the fun summer holidays had stopped her fingers.
... for some reason, the thought of being alone was particularly painful, even though she had finally gotten a chance.
The guitar began playing "WHITE ALBUM" as always...
The words she mumbled were indeed criticism coming from her mouth, but her eyes seemed to smile so much as to fumble her words.
It was the sound of the guitar player who didn't improve much at all over the course of the term that she kept hearing.
It was selfish practice that had no kind of harmony, and while it continued to miss notes, it'd always cut into her performance. It wouldn't stop if she did, and would just interrupt if she continued. Even though it was quite a bother, there wasn't a time that she had merely let it continue to play here at all.
"Just a little longer..."
Today's "WHITE ALBUM" was rather perfect.
Her fingers began to feel a little less numb.
She even felt like possibly playing another song.
Because at that moment, the guitar was the only thing she had.
Touma Kazusa hated the skies.
She absolutely hated the blue skies where thick clouds would rise and spread from the end of the rain season.
She hated the teachers, the students, and pretty much the world around her.
And she hated the overly familiar student so much. For the time being, she wouldn't see him for a while.
However... at the moment, this quiet noise was the only thing Touma Kazusa didn't hate.
- Approx. $38,569.13 USD
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